It seems the question most folks want to know is, “How did I end up on the highways of our great country, trying to ride all the states, traveling lesser-known slabs and being alone with the sunsets?” It’s a question I avoid for the most part, and typically answer with little more than a wince. It seems that life has just sort of had its way with me, since there never really was a plan or anything scripted. My happiness has just evolved as I’ve drifted along with the wind. Yes, there was a man, and yes, there was a bad relationship, but in retrospect, I’m not sure that was any more than just a catalyst that eventually afforded me an opportunity to find my bliss. Either way, I do not regret its end.
Back in ’09 I was hired to help with the public relations for an event that involved antique motorcycles. In the beginning there was just a guy who wanted to go for a ride on old bikes with his friends, then there were three of us who dedicated ourselves to planning out a cross-country adventure for 45 riders on antique motorcycles. It was an optimistic undertaking of a magnitude unlike anything I’d ever been involved in. Of the three, only one of us had any experience with an event of its kind and it certainly wasn’t me. For 13 months I worked my ass off. And I worried.
By the time the run was organized my relationship was quite dead and I prepared to leave California facing two weeks on the road with total strangers. Upon my return I would have to move out of a beautiful and much-loved house as I wrestled with the very real thought of being homeless. I landed in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, for the start of the run with fear in my gut, a helmet in my hand and Lazarus in my backpack. It was September 8, 2010. I’d never felt so adrift in my entire life.
As our group set out on the incredible journey through the back roads of America, a miraculous thing began to happen. We woke up in a different city every day, and as we collectively struggled to make it across the country, we came to depend on each other for comfort and support. Everyone had their individual cosmos, but we were connected by that ribbon of blacktop that wound its way through the states and we became a family under terms of which I’d never experienced before.
Watching the 100-year-old machines struggle for life was exhilarating, to say the least. Engines broke and repairs were made, as parts were traded and lies were swapped each night in parking lot camps, sometimes until dawn. There was a nightly head count and if anyone was late, we all waited and worried. Come daybreak, we cheered each other on to the next stop. We became an intricate part of each other’s daily lives and I discovered what it meant to be truly present. There was no yesterday, no people beyond the immediate company, and tomorrow only consisted of a route page and mileage through new territory. It became a matter of survival and the drama of the lives we had stepped out of as we embarked upon this rare adventure ceased to exist. For me, it became a spiritual experience of the highest order. Time was reduced to the lowest common denominator: NOW.
I began to understand what “living in the moment” really meant. I accepted that there was no presence beyond our core group, and suddenly things became glaringly simple. I cast off all tethers, safety nets and commitments beyond the very existence of that place in time. I realized I didn’t have to live in a house, or pay rent or water a garden. I had nothing to control besides my own life, not even that patch of grass that had grown too tall along the sidewalk. I decided I would no longer mow a lawn.
By the time we rolled onto the Santa Monica pier for the last day of our magical adventure, I realized I was being given the perfect opportunity to live the way I wanted to every day, not just when others allowed me my own time. I didn’t have to pursue a conventional life. I could spend every day riding and waking up somewhere new and watching the sunrise from the road if I wanted to. And I did.
Over the course of the run I made “forever” friends and discovered that just because one man didn’t like me, it didn’t mean that I was unlikable. The more time I spend out on the road, the more I realize that I’m OK with me. I’m quite content and though I do still have some responsibilities (a mother is always a mother, even after she’s become a grandmother), I’m happy with that. I am no longer burdened by the weight of the world as I knew it, and the balance of work and play is perfect. When you love your job, it doesn’t feel like work; it becomes a passion.
I chose to share all this now because by the time you read this, I will have been on the road with the Motorcycle Cannonball, again. Lonnie, John and I will have met a new group of riders, as well as some of the original herd, on a different route for 17 days. We will depart New York on September 7, arriving in San Francisco on September 23, with 75 riders and just as many crew. The coast-to-coast ride will be a sort of pilgrimage for me. I am prepared to let the entire experience consume me once again, as I am privileged to meet and ride with folks from around the world. I expect more changes after this odyssey, and anxiously anticipate the revelations that will surely come my way, having come full circle. October 10 will be the third anniversary of living life on my terms and I plan to celebrate with a nice long ride to catch the sunset. Wanna come along? The West Coast is beautiful in October.